The DHL Stormers suffered their first loss of 2015, as they went down 19-28 to two-times Vodacom Super Rugby champions, the Chiefs at DHL Newlands on Saturday.
The Men from the Cape, still the SA Conference leaders despite their first defeat of the 2015 Super Rugby season, lost a ferocious fixture against their more experienced opponents.
The visitors, the 2013 and 2014 champions, scored three tries to one to leave the huge crowd of 42,233 spectators disappointed – that after a 19th-minute Kobus van Wyk try beautifully set up by Damian de Allende and converted by Kurt Coleman (who also added a penalty goal), put the hosts up by 10-3 after 20 minutes.
But the Chiefs, with flyhalf Aaron Cruden doing their points-scoring, never let the DHL Stormers out of their sights and Cruden scored (and converted) a try to make it 13-10 after 30 minutes.
Coleman popped over another penalty goal in the 35th minute, to put his team ahead by 16-10, but Cruden landed a penalty goal in the 40th minute to claw back a valuable three points at 16-13 before the break.
The Chiefs piled on the pressure in the second half and their dominance eventually told on the scoreboard when left-wing James Lowe muscled his way over in the 48th minute – handing the Chiefs a 20-16 lead, the first time they went ahead since the 15th minute of the game.
Slowly but surely the Chiefs managed to keep their noses in front, as Cruden landed a penalty goal in the 60th minute to make the score 23-16 to the visitors as the final quarter began.
The DHL Stormers, to their credit, defended courageously to keep the Chiefs at bay but the visitors’ pressure told once more when All Blacks flanker Sam Cane forced his way over in the left-hand corner with nine minutes left on the clock.
That try, the Chiefs’ third, extended their lead past the seven-point barrier which meant the DHL Stormers had to head the all-out attacking route to preserve their unbeaten run.
It was not to be, however, as the DHL Stormers fell short for the first time in 2015 but they remain in a favourable position on the Vodacom Super Rugby log – both at conference and overall level – after five rounds of action.
For the DHL Stormers:
Try: Van Wyk
Pens: Coleman 3, Catrakilis
For the Chiefs:
Tries: Cruden, Lowe, Cane
Cons: Cruden 2
Pens: Cruden 3
DHL Stormers: 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Juan de Jongh (vice-captain), 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Dillyn Leyds, 10 Kurt Coleman, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Duane Vermeulen (captain), 7 Siya Kolisi, 6 Nizaam Carr, 5 Manuel Carizza, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Neil Rautenbach, 17 Alistair Vermaak, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 Ruan Botha, 20 Schalk Burger, 21 Nic Groom, 22 Demetri Catrakilis, 23 Huw Jones.
Chiefs: 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Bryce Heem, 13 Tim Nanai-Williams, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 James Lowe, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Brad Weber, 8 Michael Leitch, 7 Sam Cane, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Michael Fitzgerald, 4 Matt Symons, 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Hika Elliot, 1 Pauliasi Manu.
Replacements: 16 Quentin MacDonald, 17 Siate Tokolahi, 18 Jamie Mackintosh, 19 Michael Allardice, 20 Maama Vaipulu, 21 Augustine Pulu, 22 Andrew Horrell, 23 Tom Marshall.
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa), Quinton Immelman (South Africa)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)